This presentation will share the story of the UWCSEA Dover Infant School’s DEI Literacy Project, supported by a 50th Anniversary Innovation Grant. The aim of this project was to create and curate a collection of books, lessons and resources for teachers and parents of young children, in support of conversations centred on issues of DEI.
We will share the resources developed, the challenges and opportunities faced, and what we learned along the way.
Molly Fassbender: Funded by the UWCSEA Foundation over the last two years, these teachers have been working on a project that started out examining our library collections to make sure they were culturally representative. And has expanded to include diversity training for teachers.
Before I hand over to the presenters, can I just remind everyone to please keep their microphones on mute and to put any questions that you have into the chat? And also to stay up to up to date on.
The Forum with the app over the next two days. I'm now going to hand it over to Rassamee Thank you very much.
Evelyn Hurtado: on. We're just going to share our screen one moment.
Rassamee Hayes: Hi, everyone. My name is Rassamee Hayes. I'm a K-2 teacher here at UWC, I'm also a teacher, leader and coach. I consider myself an actively anti-racist educator, and I'm doing a lot of ongoing work around that. I was raised. I am. I consider myself multiracial. My mother is a Thai woman and she's an immigrant to the United States. And my father was a white American.
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest in a mostly white school. And so growing up, I really highly identified with my half Thai side and only hung out with kids of colour and brown and black kids. And the first time I was I was actually called a white person was when I was eighteen years old. And it was really like an eye opening experience for me.
I was working in the South Side of Chicago and somebody told me I didn't belong there and told me I was white, and it was literally the first time anyone ever called me that. So that was like the beginning of this journey of embracing my whole self, including my white side, and the power and privilege that comes along with that.
I'm also raising two young kids, ages four and seven, and they are also multiracial. They are Thai, white and black. So that comes with a whole host of other things. So this is why this work is so important to me.
Evelyn Hurtado: Good morning. Wednesday. My name is Evelyn Hurtado and I am an early childhood teachers leader and my background is actually in special education and developing inclusive environments. I currently teach K-2 with Rassamee, and I'm the head of grade here in the Dover campus. I identify as Latina. What I would say in the United States is Chicana being Mexican-American.
My mom is from Veracruz, Mexico, and my dad's culture is Spanish and Native American. So for me, a lot of my identity development growing up was about like unlearning and re learning coming from the colonised and the coloniser and also my national identity as a U.S. citizen and and how the nuances of privilege and marginalisation show up in my life.
Andrea Strachan: Hi everyone. My name is Andrea Strachan and I'm the head of grade for K one and the Infant School Curriculum Coordinator or coordinator here at UWC Southeast Asia. I've lived in Southeast Asia for most of my life. I have an Irish husband, one child that was born in Canada, one child that was born in Vietnam, and I myself am a fourth generation Canadian.
So aside from knowing that there are some Scottish roots on my father's side, I really don't know that much about my family background and culture. So based on the work that we're doing here at UWC I'm really interested in learning more about my personal identity. And this work is affecting me in many different ways, and I'm learning more about my own power and privilege that I hold and how I need to and want to be more aware of how I bring this into the classroom with me and how this affects my practice.
So we're really excited for you to be here with us today.
Evelyn Hurtado: So we're going to go ahead and start off by asking you to just please take a moment and think about a book from your childhood. And this would be a book that was introduced to you in your school environment, and we're going to do something called a waterfall chat. So the first rule of the waterfall chat is don't hit enter until teacher says enter.
So when you've thought of your title of this book, you remember if you can kindly put it in the chat. And then when I say Enter, we're going to look at all the responses and receive a waterfall of responses. So if you can take a moment now, just a few more seconds. I'm excited to see we're excited to see the responses.
All right. Go and hit enter Dick and Jane. Oh, Island of Blue Dolphins.
Andrea Strachan: Wombat Stew
Evelyn Hurtado: Tintin. The Outsiders. I remember the outsiders in middle school, too.
Andrea Strachan: Which black prepon went down Famous Five Oh.
Rassamee Hayes: I saw a couple of Where the Wild Things Are.
Evelyn Hurtado: The wild things. All right. It looks like we have. Here we go tomorrow when the war began. Thank you so much for adding to this activity. It looks like we're slowing it down. I just want to take a moment and thinking beyond the standards and the content and the materials and the artefacts we as we use as educators in the classroom, there's also like this subtle education of values and importance, a hidden curriculum, would you say?
And let's take a moment and look at these titles and see, like what you noticed about the titles, what what themes emerged, what patterns emerged in. And if you feel comfortably, please go ahead and add that in chat.
Andrea Strachan: Yeah.
Evelyn Hurtado: So we invite you to think about this idea. Do you see monocultural themes? Do you see books that reflected your culture? Do you see books that would reflect our student culture? And think about that part about the materials and books that we're using in class and that in that hidden culture.
Andrea Strachan: Okay.
The next slide, so taking a look at this slide, so my journey with this work, this diversity, equity and inclusion and justice work, we're going to refer to that as DEIJ really began when I joined the college. Our college's action for diversity pod So the invitation was sent out to everyone who was interested in joining. And I said to myself, I really need to learn more about this.
And I was really shocked actually to realise that as an international educator for over 25 years, I really had never taken the time to really reflect on these concepts deeply and not in the way that I am now. So one of the colleagues in this action for Diversity Pod that was there with me was our primary school librarian at the time.
Her name was Pamela mills, and we were both wondering where to begin with this work. We decided that beginning with an audit of our library books and our library book collection would be a great place to start. And when we started to look at the books, we were actually really surprised by the lack of diversity in the collection, and it was really clear that we could do better and then connected with Rassamee who had joined our college and we put together a proposal for a 50th anniversary innovation grant to launch an inquiry into what books are out there and as we work to diversify our book collection.
So we invited any teachers who wanted to join this inquiry and this journey within our infant school. It started there, which is k one, k two in grade one. So we wanted to have a manageable project. So focus on one area of the school and we had about five teachers join the initial group and this quickly grew to ten and more.
As soon as we said, you know, you're going to get some free books. We had all kinds of buy in teachers, loved books. And since that time we've been receiving emails from teachers and upper primary from our east campus in middle and high school, and even colleagues from beyond the college. And now there's about a group of 15 of us that recently from K to 12, took part in a course on culturally responsive literature instruction.
So I think this challenge and opportunity was really ripe and we're really excited by the passion behind it. So Evelyn joined us at UW this year, and when she joined us she introduced me to this analogy that you will see on the screen by Dr. RUDIN, signed by Sims Bishop of Books being years windows and sliding glass doors for learners.
So this idea that they are mirrors and allow learners to see themselves and their own experiences, books can be windows allowing learners to look to see other worlds that they can compare to their own and sliding glass doors. So in reflecting on the books we use in our classrooms, just like you've done right now in this waterfall chat, many of us realised that we were reaching for books that are familiar to us or are even or our favourites from our own childhood.
And that this was actually limiting the mirrors, windows and sliding glass doors available to the students in our classrooms. Those students who have who may have very different lived experiences from us. So then we had the question, okay, well, but where are we going to find these new books? What what is out there?
Rassamee Hayes: So if you take a look at this slide, there are three infographics here that kind of outline the diversity in children's books since 2015. And what we noticed is there has been some tiny shifts in protagonists of colour, black and brown characters. If you look at the data, right, and there's been some much bigger shifts in the white characters and the animal characters.
And so what what I can pull out of this is Asian characters went Asian, protagonists went from 3%, they increased to 9%. Black protagonists increased from 9% to 12%, and animals increased from 12% to 29%. And when you look at the data, white characters, white protagonists actually decreased from 73% to 41%. But basically what this is showing us is that we've traded white characters for animal characters, even though we've seen tiny shifts in protagonists of colour.
So one of my first steps whenever I started a new school is I setup my classroom, that's what all teachers do. The very first step I do is I audit the books I've inherited because it gives me a window into what is going on in the classroom, what has gone on before. And so I did that in my classroom at the beginning of the year when I started a UWC, and I was very pleased that I have inherited well over 500 books.
But as I went through the books, it was very reflective of these infographics. I had over 500 books, many animal books, but of people of colour black and brown characters there was about five books and of them, many of them were outdated of the five. So I could see already that I needed to offset that. Two reasons might explain why this is the case.
Number one is what you see on these infographics is there's just not as much out there of protagonists of colour and diverse characters. So if you're looking for a certain subject in the primary grades, most likely you'll find a big stack with animals or white characters, and you'll find a tiny stack of other characters black, brown, differently abled characters.
Another thing is what Andrew talked about in the last slide, which is we as teachers bring in our lived experiences into the classroom and bring in our favourite books or books we identify with. And when you look at the data from my home country in the United States, the majority of teachers are white women. And I don't have the data.
I did look for data for international schools, but it's kind of all over the place. Nothing comprehensive that I could find. But I know from my lived experience that it's mostly white women, often white people who are the teachers in international schools.
Evelyn Hurtado: So before we we continue, we just thought it would be a good idea to just share, have some shared understanding of language. And one thing that we didn't do as we started was a little bit of housekeeping. So during this presentation, if you have any questions, feel free to pop them in the chat. We're hoping at the end we'll have some time for Q&A.
But if we don't, there's a networking room that you can join. After that, we'll be in for an hour. So if you want to have lunch with us, we we welcome you to do that. And also so many of the resources or the times that we site people, we've created a palette that we'll share with you at the end that has the information to that resource.
So going back to this slide, T.J., these are the shared understandings and definitions here at the college. And they were recently published in a document that is teaching for DOJ. And so, as you know, diversity is a unique mix of differences found within a community. So this is a fact, right? This is the equity is a paradigm in process to redistribute access and opportunity to be fair.
And just so what we're looking at here in so many ways is organisations and organisational impact and systems inclusion. Such a hard space for me is the valuing belonging and dignity felt by all in our community. So I always liken it to this like diversity, as you're invited to sit at the table, we're all different. But inclusion is the act of coming to the table and saying, Hey, will you help me build it?
And that's always like a really beautiful way that I look at it in my mind. Anyway, beautiful and justice is the repairing, restoring and renewing of individuals and societies. So yeah.
Andrea Strachan: It does not want to work for me.
Evelyn Hurtado: So, so you might want to ask like, how does that look like? Like how does that work with our youngest learners, which I lovingly referred to as little elders and early on. So I feel like I've been doing some deep digging work for about eight years now in the International school community. Somebody shared with me because I was very nervous about entering into this work with the Littles and they said if a child is old enough to experience racism or sexism or any type of ism, that means that they're old enough to learn about it.
And that really helps. So true to my thinking about how we bring this into the classroom, I'm really loving these quotes. One thing I really want to highlight is this one from Meghan Maddison and Jessica Ryan. The bottom, they are doing a whole book series of called First Conversations. It's linked in the paddling, but young children notice a lot.
They do from a very early age. There's a lot of studies. But when we, the adults, the people that they're counting on in their life, don't talk about it, children often come to their own conclusions, and that can include this bias and stereotypes because the world we live in, because really what our job is educators is helping create safe and brave spaces where students are making meaning of their life.
Andrea Strachan: It's like, Yeah, okay.
So as part of the innovation grants, each participating teacher was asked to locate 20 books that they wanted to purchase any 20 books, but they wanted two books that spoke to their heart, maybe that they'd had an eye on, but also to do some research into this. So they needed to start connecting with educators around the world. Looking at the Internet.
If you go on the Internet, you find that the websites share a lot of the same books. So we started connecting with local and small publishers as well, and we even found people within our community that were publishing books that were really relevant to the students and learners that we would find within our school. But as we were engaging with this inquiry, our inquiry group of teachers basically asked, Well, actually, what are we looking for exactly?
Like Are we looking for books to teach to social justice standards? Are we just looking for diversity in the characters? If so, what would that look like and how do we want to engage with these books? So we all agreed on some guidelines in terms of the representation we wanted to start to curate and cultivate in our collections.
For example, we wanted to make sure we included Neurodiverse characters, characters with disabilities, LGBTQ plus community members and families, characters that we might see here in Southeast Asia as this is the majority of our student population, and also looking at books on adoption, including transnational adoption. So really trying to have to create a really rich and diverse set of books that would provide these mirrors, windows and sliding glass doors for our learners.
And then as we started to look at this, we realised we wanted to use books in a few different ways. So this slide actually, I'm going to refer to these three books as three examples of different ways that you can engage with these books or that we were engaging with these books. So the first you'll see is the book.
Another, this is a wordless picture book and it has a brown skinned child as one of the characters. So in this way we just wanted representation within our book collection that was incidental. Okay, this it's not about engaging with social justice standards. It's just having representation within our our collection. The second book you'll see here is Donovan's Big Day, and we wanted to choose some books that would connect to our units of study.
So one of the units of study and grade one, one component of it was focusing on celebrations. So this book is about a celebration of family celebration, one that everybody can connect with. Marriage, I think, exists in all cultures. But the twist here at the end is that they were two mummies getting married. And so it was Donovan's big day to be a part of his mother's marriage.
So in this case, the story is really about a celebration. And again, the fact that the family is maybe not one that we see in many books is incidental, but is really important for introducing, you know, mirrors that reflect the families and the family members that we know within our school community and then finally, we have this book, My Footprints, and I'm going to come back to this one later in the workshop to tell you a little bit about how we used it.
But this book, the teacher actually selected intentionally to teach to social justice standards and talking about microaggressions, how we support other people around us and how we respond to these.
Rassamee Hayes: So one thing we also have been doing is picking. She talked about picking the last book to go with a certain unit. This book we are starting to use this year in found in Singapore, it's called Bodies Are Cool by Tyler Feder. It is amazing. I don't even know how to explain it. Every type of body type person I think is represented in this book and it's not something you usually see in a book for young kids.
And so we've been using this book. Bodies are cool in the unit society, the Child Safeguarding Unit, some of the we're talking about how to keep our bodies safe in this unit, including consent. We're also talking about what strategies can we use as young kids if we do not feel unsafe? And also, who can help me if I feel unsafe.
But what's nice with bodies are cool is it's it's just showing a range of people. So when you're reading this book, contain it into a safeguarding unit. Kids are being exposed to all types of bodies that they might see. And it's sort of not something where they you know, sometimes you'll see young kids interested in why why does someone look different than me and say things like that?
This book will kind of introduce all types of bodies and just use realise that bodies are all types and it's not just one type. And then two of the social justice teaching standards that would be hit on are hit by this book are under the diversity strand. One is for students to feel comfort with bodies that are different than theirs and people who are different than theirs and have language to talk about that, as well as basically being able to respectfully and accurately describe people different than themselves.
And so this is a great touchstone for that.
Evelyn Hurtado: Yeah, I really want to highlight Rassasmee’s language there, she said. Usualise And that was something that we we just decided on as a group as opposed to normalise, which really is a more value placed where the next one is. This is a book. So we do writing workshop here at UW C and one of the fiction writing units is small moments.
A lot of grades actually do small moments. And so this is just using a different text with a diverse character. Jabari jumps in and I wanted to share a story with you about a student in my class. So this is probably my first month in here at school and we're at the library, which is gorgeous. So many books and one of the little girls comes to me and she says that she wants a book about princesses.
So let's organise quite well. We go over and we're looking through the princesses and there's different books like Princess Grace, which is a dark brown skinned princess, but there's not any of the traditional princesses. They're all out. And she's like, No, I want a princess book. And I'm like, Well, these are princess books. And she goes, Yeah, but they're not pretty.
I want the Pretty Princess book. And the student is family is actually from India. And so initially this could be or depending how I responded to it, an instance where I tell her, well, actually this is beautiful and just as beautiful, but speaking like I did before, it's really our place to create that space where they figure their meaning themselves.
So all I did was say, Wow, I think this princess is absolutely beautiful. And I left it at that. But then I go back in the class and it's like the work begins. I'm bringing in more books, I'm reading princess books. I'm asking her family to share things about their culture. I'm making sure that whenever I have a visual representation that in a Google slide presentation that I'm showing a diversity of characters even as much as I can.
We did an arts festival. I made sure that we danced to a song that was in her her home language. And so this week, we we were doing a small moments for the writing moderation. And this is the beginning of her story. And I just want to show her family. And so through all of that, she's created, you know, her own meaning of that experience.
And and this is one of the social justice standards. And once again, that's linked in our palate. It's from teaching tolerance will formally now it's called teaching for change. And they have social justice standards from kindergarten. He went all the way through 12th grade. But it's like I know and like who I am and can talk about my family and myself and name some of my group identities.
And she proudly says, Now my culture, how she has beautiful skin, how she is a brown princess. And it's just been lovely to see that.
Andrea Strachan: Love that story.
We go back.
There we go. So earlier I talked about how some teachers have been selecting books intentionally to talk about or speak to social justice standards. So this these pictures here were based on the book my footprints by about and bacitracin. So a summary of this story is this every child feels different in some way, but she feels double different.
She's Vietnamese-American and has two moms, two. She walks home one winter afternoon, angry and lonely after bullies taunts. Then a bird catches her attention and sets Tui on an imaginary exploration. What if she could fly away like a bird? What if she could sprint like a deer or roar like a bear, mimicking the footprints of each creature in the snow, she makes her way home to the arms of her two moms together.
The three of them imagine beautiful and powerful creatures who always have courage, just like Tui. So these examples here from one of our fabulous K one teachers, Catherine Malone. So Cassie use this book as an opportunity to explore with the learners in her class how we respond to micro-aggressions. Because even young children could be on the receiving end of microaggressions, and we wanted to provide them with some tools and understandings of of this.
So here you can see the notes from the discussion she had with the children and some of their words and their voice and how they describe these and how they respond to them. And then you can see in the bottom corner there, the children actually making their own courageous monsters and then creating a class book of how they they can respond when others are treated unfairly or unkindly.
And so she connected to this to the social justice standards focused on action. I care about those who are treated unfairly. I can and will do something when I see unfairness. And this includes telling an adults.
Evelyn Hurtado: So the examples that we gave you came from early childhood classrooms because we're early childhood educators. But it was a really nice experience taking a culturally responsive literature course because we had teachers that ran all, all the way through 12th grade. And so just wanted to highlight some of our favourites and some books that are being used across our campus.
Andrea Strachan: And I know so.
Evelyn Hurtado: So during this time we also had some challenges. Of course, we were like, how do we audit books? What are we looking for? How comfortable are teachers going to be engaging in these topics and responding? We also want to make sure not to fall into my Bennie any racial detours or equity traps and tropes. There's a shout out to street data to the have it there also.
So initially I thought was like how things can often work here. Like we see something, let's create a solution, let's come up with solve this problem, let's fix it. And we had to really stop and slow down and really step away from that dominant culture and say, hey, this is really complex and nuanced work and we don't have to jump out like that.
Let's take some time learning about each other, trying different things in the class, looking at texts from different ways, having people observe us, reflecting on what they're seeing, reflecting on what's coming out with the students to make sure that the lessons that we're creating and that we want to share with people just aren't those surface level like those surface culture, but that are really engaging in more, deeper cultural, into deeper culture.
Andrea Strachan: So we started by looking at the books in our classrooms, but what we realised is we really needed to look beyond this and start to intentionally and critically critically evaluate actually all of the resources we were using in our classrooms and here's a list of questions we started to ask ourselves. So do our books and other resources include content and illustrations that reflect the experiences of people from diverse backgrounds?
Does our curriculum promote understanding of diverse perspectives, including values, attitudes and behaviours that support cultural pluralism? Does our physical environment include images that counter existing stereotypes? Does our physical environment include images of diverse people engaged in everyday dress and activities as opposed to ancient or ceremonial dress? And how often do we audit our classroom resources using the questions above?
So I'm going to share an anecdote again from Kathy's class. She gave me permission to share. And so she is a very experienced early childhood educator. She's built up a lot of resources over the years that she likes to pull out at different times. And one of the resources she had was this beautiful set of little fairy dolls.
And once a year, for one week, she would set up this fairy world in her classroom at the light table. And she always felt that the children were very engaged with imagining fairies in the woodland and and all the stories that would emerge from that. And this year, she put her fairy set, set it up, lots of kids playing at the fairy table.
And then all of a sudden she overheard a conversation and she heard one of the children say, you know, boys can't be fairies. And then another little girl spoke up and said, yes, boys can be fairies. I have a book at home and it has boy and girl fairies in it. And because I think Cathy has been engaging in this work alongside us and like everybody else, she was she really immediately picked up on this conversation and so she went over and then to her horror, she realised not only were all the fairies girls, but they were all white.
And so she thought, oh, my, oh, my goodness. And really, they're not a lot of white children in her class. So she she actually brought this to our to one of our meetings and was saying, you know, I'm so embarrassed. I've been bringing up this this material every year. The kids seem to love it. But now I realise what messages it's sending, you know, does anyone know if I can get some more diverse fairies?
And one of our other teachers, Barbara Banks, she was like, don't worry, I've got you. I have a diverse grade collection. You can have it. And now we have boy fairies, girl fairies, brown skin fairies, all different fairies. But it's just one small example of how if we're not intentionally taking time to really reflect on and look critically at the resources we're using in our classroom, we can promote this hidden curriculum that really continues to send the message to children that some things are for some and not for others.
And so it's important that we look at all of our resources.
Rassamee Hayes: So we've talked about this a couple of times during this presentation, right? Are doing an audit of children's books. And so one thing I'd like to encourage everyone to do is if you have not tried again, it is to audit your either your class library, maybe your mentor text library. If you're an educator, if you're a parent, your children's library can look at what books are there.
Here are ten ways to analyse children's books, things like checking the illustrations down below, checking who the protagonist is, who the heroes are in the books, looking at the copyright date. Some books are classics, but there are new classics. We can be incorporated into our book collections and we are putting lots and lots of checklists and different materials and materials and resources on the pamphlet.
So encourage you to do that. I think it is so important to really take a critical look at the books that kids are exposed to. It's a very small step and it's it's low level, but it's huge impact if you just look at the books and realise, you know what, it's showing only this type of culture or mostly this type of story that needs to change.
If we want our children to be raised in a world where they know multiple, multiple stories, multiple experiences, and you're going to say something.
Evelyn Hurtado: Yeah, I know. We listen to a podcast called Cult of Pedagogy. Jennifer Gonzalez was hosting the read a Hammond in her book. You know, she's done so much work on culturally responsive teaching and her recent book is culturally responsive teaching in the Brain. And that is also that podcast is is linked in the habit. And she said every hour teaching is culturally responsive teaching.
But ask yourself what culture are you responsively teaching to. So making sure that that once again that that word intentionality that it's it's really purposeful how we're making sure to offer different ways of living and being to all of our students.
Andrea Strachan: Yeah, and I think it's important to note, like people say, well, all cultures are valuable, they are. But it's important to recognize that there are dominant cultures that are in our classrooms and we actually have to work to intentionally mitigate that, to make it more equitable and diverse.
Rassamee Hayes: And one more thing is in the classroom, you do have books like every book focuses, you know, would maybe teach to certain things. And when we say things like we need to diversify the books in the classroom, there are books in the classroom that are reflecting certain kid's lived experiences. Not all kids lived experiences, so thinking whose lived experiences am I reflecting back to the kids and does it include all the kids in our classroom?
And maybe your classroom isn't that diverse. It still needs to include experiences that your kids don't have access to, not just something that's a reflection, which is why you also do this.
Andrea Strachan: And sliding.
Rassamee Hayes: So we're going to pause for a minute and I'm going to tell you a little bit about this slide, and then we're going to think about it for a little bit. And this is called the Wheel of Power and Privilege. And this year at UW, see, we've been having the opportunity to basically work with the staff. The primary staff using this will apparently privilege and thinking about our identities and the intersection of our identities as individuals and being able to have that conversation with one another and as we drove into this work, we noticed a lot of questions coming up.
Number one, about whoa, like a lot of light bulbs going off, a lot of what what is the purpose of this work? How does this help us do DIY work? What is you know, how does this help us be better teachers? So I just want everyone to just take a look at this for a minute. Consider where your identities lie on this wheel of power and privilege.
What you notice and what you wonder. And then if there's anything you want to put in the chat, wondering and noticing, anything to share, feel free to add.
Andrea Strachan: I can see in the chat that people are asking us if we can share some of the resources that we're referencing. Again, we have a pamphlet that we've created and we will share the link with you at the end of the presentation. And you can access the resources that we've shared and we can continue to add to it, and we will continue to add to it.
Evelyn Hurtado: Yeah, I love this section. So comprehensive. Thank you. I think as Lucy makes.
Rassamee Hayes: So I will keep highlighting anything that people share, but I can share a little bit about my personal connection to this is I spoke before about I mean multiracial and being half white and being half Asian. And so for me, intersectionality is really like the space I live in as a multiracial person. So when I look the will of power and privilege, I have kind of different shade of skin.
But I know my race as half white. I can move very easily in white spaces and be accepted in white spaces, which offers me a lot of privilege and power. But I also get marginalised for being brown or half Asian as well. So it really depends. And I was talking energy today. It really depends on who's looking and what space I'm in, how I'm looked at.
I'm also English speaking, a native English speakers so that has opened many, many doors for me. And it's also an identity I don't ever consider like, Oh, let me think about my language identity. That's not like the first thing that comes into mind when I talk about my personal identity and just the last being I am an expat American, so that's huge privilege working overseas and having that opportunity.
And I've been in many different schools. I work at UDC now. It's a wonderful school, very highly resource. I've also worked at wonderful schools that are not as highly resourced and me as just an educator. The power I have and the privilege and resources I have now versus maybe another school is completely different.
Evelyn Hurtado: So we have all these books, we're engaging some learning and it's like, where do we start? So from the experience that we were having, I don't know if you highlighted, but we did a presentation with the entire primary staff about social identities and and a lot of questions came up about what does that mean, where does that fit in?
And we recognize that if we want to do some identity centred learning with our students, that we really need to take that time and space to do some identity centred learning ourselves and among and with each other. This document we've highlighted before, it's where that D.J. definitions came up. It's teaching for DEIJ at UWC, and there's some really great reflective questions about that and also the importance of identity centred learning.
We see some of those questions and we're hoping we're about to wrap it up, so we'll have some time to answer those. But see, so we begin to look more closely to the oh so identity centred learning. We recognize there's a lot of political discourse about it and there's a lot of different theoretical frameworks and models. But what we're talking about is what's happening on a day to day basis in our class.
Like what? What identities are coming to class? How are they intersect? Schnall What are the students feeling and how we want to respond to that? So we have to allow students opportunities to explore and share different parts of themselves and many different parts of themselves, like from their linguistic self, their cultural self, their racial self, their body image, their self-expression.
And, and think about if you think about a time like in your education, when you had a teacher or a coach or a mentor that really helped you develop your identity, how incredibly powerful that is. And I really love this image. So we start in that centre with student identity and how it's like pushing out, like how are we creating those spaces and conditions and and that starts with assessing our own prior knowledge and bias, growing our understanding.
We are in a beautiful culture that's also a part of we we are guests, this gorgeous country like even growing our understanding about local culture. That's so important. Examining barriers. You wanted to mention something about that.
Andrea Strachan: Yeah. So one thing that we've been doing in connection to all this work is really starting to look at how we best support our bilingual and multilingual learners and how we are leveraging home languages as the really powerful learning resource that it is, and something that our children bring into classrooms with them every day but don't always access.
So some I saw in the chat that someone said, Could you explain the wheel a little bit more? So when we're talking about intersectionality, that is that wheel of power and privilege. And it's the idea that you can have two women, for example, and sometimes we talk about women's rights versus men's rights, but for example, brown skinned women in a white skin, women are not having the same experience as they move through the world.
A woman with different body type is might or even look or hair type might be having a very different experience just on based on how they appear. So that's that idea of intersectionality. We were talking I was talking about my husband the other day. He's Irish and so on, a wheel of power and privilege. As a white male, he has a lot of power and privilege.
But he was also sharing with me how in his and Ireland's past that the Irish were discriminated against in certain contexts quite significantly. And so that's an example of his intersectionality coming from his cultural background. And so we want to recognize that children actually also experience intersectionality, inter intersectionality, not sexuality, sexuality. And this can be also part of their linguistic identities.
So if they work or if they come to learn in a school like ours, which is an English medium school, the language of instruction is English. How are we welcoming their linguistic resources in home languages, into our classrooms? Language, culture and identity are so connected, so what identities are children being forced to leave at the door if we're not making space for their home languages in our classrooms?
So that's something we've been thinking about in and working on. Yeah.
Evelyn Hurtado: Thank you so much for sharing that. I just want to highlight this area about creating a space. So to create an identity affirming space, you have to have a lot of patience and it has to be low stakes and optional. Like the story that I shared before and the young student in my class was like it was optional for her to opt in making meaning of one of her social identities.
And that took time. And so we not only have to create opportunities for that kind of exploration, but we also have to recognize how many possibilities there are.
Andrea Strachan: So at UWCSA, we have developed this document. This is just a piece of it. It's an internal document, so we're not sharing it. But I wanted to just highlight, give you a snapshot of some of the work that we're doing. So we're calling this this document Teaching for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Justice. So this is a new document.
But basically we're starting to reflect on our written curriculum and how concepts of DEI are embedded within these. So we've identified three overarching strategies to help underpin our thinking and to support this work connected to digital. So these are fostering identity and belonging, building meaningful local connections and magnifying perspective. So where does this work that we're doing on diversity?
Our book collections and auditing, our classroom resource resources fit. So we believe that this connects quite clearly to the important work of fostering identity and belonging and focusing on identity centred learning. So looking at books has been a wonderful entry point for this work for all learners, both students and teachers. But actually what's come from it is so much more than just books.
It's starting to reflect more critically on who we are and who our students are and and how this all comes together to create this school culture.
Rassamee Hayes: And it looks like Ali shared the document.
Molly Fassbender: Sharing the dialog.
Andrea Strachan: So.
Rassamee Hayes: Internal in.
Molly Fassbender: Line with me, but merely added to the panel later, if that's okay.
Evelyn Hurtado: So this is the resource I have it. So that culture pedagogy was a the podcast that I mentioned is in there as well as all of the resources. I do want to give a shout out to Daniel Wagner and I did add his website for identity centred learning. He's doing some amazing stuff. He's at a Hong Kong international school.
And so anything that we mentioned today will be highlighted in this tablet. And I know that his art is going to be sharing it just right about now.
Andrea Strachan: Yeah. Yep.
Evelyn Hurtado: Thank you so much for your time and energy today. Somebody asked a question we're kind of like looking at in the corner of our eye about creating a family story. I think you might want to highlight this. Yes.
Andrea Strachan: Definitely. So this is a book written by my former colleague and friend. She's still my friend, but was my former colleague at another school. What are the pieces of your puzzle by Amelia? Stevie Martin. So she's now living in France, but she comes from a multiracial and cultural family. And when she became a mom, you know, her children would be learning Spanish and also English, but living in a French speaking community.
She wanted to write a book for her children, help them to understand that they that there are many pieces to their identity and that all of those have value. And so we're looking for books, more books like this nice little resource to share.
Evelyn Hurtado: And we just want to leave you today with this quote. I've heard it many times before in order to find uses that I don't know where it comes from, but half the curriculum walks into the room when when the students do. And we encourage you as you leave today. And please feel free to to add this in the chat.
We would love to hear some reflective thinking about this is what is something as you leave today that you would like to start doing to continue doing or to stop doing in your practice?
Rassamee Hayes: And thank you.
Andrea Strachan: Thank you. I got to hand it back to Molly. So let's see.
Molly Fassbender: Yes. Hi. Thank you so much. I mean, it's absolutely just been fascinating. We've all got so many great, I think, tips and tricks to kind of go and implement. I just wanted to start with some of the questions that been rolling through the chat. I think Carlos was asking about a family story.
How can sharing family stories help to build identity and reaffirm identity? Do you have any thoughts about that?
Evelyn Hurtado: I mean, I think sharing stories and and that every person recognizes and internalize is that they get to create their own narrative.
Rassamee Hayes: Is.
Evelyn Hurtado: So incredibly powerful. And of course, when we're in our homes, that's something that we want to help create with our children, that that's something that we want to to make sure that that's a part of what we're doing as a family. So, yes, Carlos. Absolutely. Creating a family story, having your child create their own story. And we have to understand that identity changes.
Like my identity 20 years is completely, not completely different, but very different. Thank goodness for my identity today. And and we have to be okay with that space. Like there's no value to it. Like our experience is our experience.
Andrea Strachan: And I think in international schools it's very complex for for our students. I'm sure you've heard the term third culture kids. These are kids that don't live in their home culture that their parents are from. They just they're not actually part of the local community. So they exist in this third space, which is basically a mix of all of their experiences.
But often when we ask children to identify where they're from, it's really a difficult question for them. As for things like United Nations Day, if your school celebrates something that asking a child that is from multiple places or whose family is from multiple places where they're from is very threatening.
Evelyn Hurtado: Threatening? Yeah. It's not a low threatening question.
Andrea Strachan: Yeah. And so we have to start rethinking how we do that. And so we have included on the palate a link to the TEDx talk where don't ask me where I'm from, ask me where I'm a local. So that's one thing we're starting to explore a little bit. Where are you local? Because many of our students were born in Singapore, even though they're not Singaporean.
And so if you ask them where they're from, they'll say, I'm from Singapore and and you have overheard adults in the past say to them, no, no, honey, you were you were born in Singapore, right? You're not from your family's not from Singapore, but for their personal identity, they feel like they're from Singapore. So honouring each person's opportunity, define who they are.
Molly Fassbender: They get to they get to define who they are. Right. Thank you. I think we have a question from Amy in the chat. She's saying, how does you represent linguistic diversity in classrooms? Do you use multi language books?
Evelyn Hurtado: Oh, and you see how Ellie just respond to that. So please come to the workshop tomorrow where Ellie and Pilar will be hosting a talk about linguistic diversity here at UW. See your response to it? Let's see. Taking a look at some of those questions about those.
Rassamee Hayes: Asked about the power, privilege and power. Well, I just want to say, like when you look at the will, the middle is the middle is where you have the most power. So if your identity lays on the middle of that wheel, that would be like a power or focus space. And if your identity for that category is on the outer side of the world, that's like less power.
So you might find that you're on the middle for some things and you're on the outskirts on other things.
Evelyn Hurtado: And we don't subscribe to that. One way of looking at intersectionality, there's a lot of different models. Shelley, more inclusive educator, has an amazing and I've gotten out of the pattern where she talks about this idea of inclusivity and it's kind of like all these circles, you know, on top of circles and I think that really speaks to the complexity of it.
Molly Fassbender: Okay. There's another question from Carlos in the chat. He says, How will identity be challenged with these parallel virtual universes that are appearing today?
Andrea Strachan: Well will it will it be challenged or will it actually be celebrated? Because in a virtual universe, you get to create what you look like and have control over who you tell people, who you are and how you want to engage with others, what languages you want to connect with.
So, I don't know. I think we have another workshop happening, Jennifer, led by Kurt Wittig, our amazing head of libraries here at Dover. And they're actually looking at virtual reality. So maybe they'll be exploring that. They're very exciting time to be a person and an educator.
Rassamee Hayes: And I like that. Lindsey said she would like to start interrogating chapter books in the same way we talk about what we do in infant school. Absolutely.
Andrea Strachan: We're already making connections with our primary teachers and already have a group of them that are doing some of this work and are really excited to grow it.
Evelyn Hurtado: Thank you so much for sharing that.
Andrea Strachan: So you have a another one.
Evelyn Hurtado: Okay. Let's look at that new.
Andrea Strachan: Message of exchange.
Evelyn Hurtado: gracias, de nada.
Molly Fassbender: I mean, would you like. To share just one or two perhaps tips for parents, how they could get started on this at home?
Rassamee Hayes: Mm hmm. I can speak a little bit about that.
Andrea Strachan: Maybe I'm I see.
Rassamee Hayes: A of question, but I think what we're talking about is really fostering your own child's identity, which is what is their identity and what is their family's identity. I do think auditing children's books that your kids are exposed to is super important. And I think being okay with hard conversations with your young kids like questions like why does that person look like that?
Or even like kids are very honest. They'll say things like, Oh, that person, something's wrong with their face or whatever they say. And like being able to not say, like, don't stare at them, let's not talk about it like distracting the kid, actually saying, why do you say that or having the back and forth to be okay with those uncomfortable conversations so that they know like anything is a conversation you can have?
There's no wrong question or bad question. You can add anything to that. Well, I.
Evelyn Hurtado: Do want to share the rest me is also being a little modest. It's in the paper. But she actually created a curriculum. Yeah. For raising anti-racist children. So that's something that you can access in the pamphlet. Can you just go up a second? So somebody said something about this on the student. Somebody called me stupid. Interesting. So when to tell the teacher and when not to is a question I have.
How do we teach children to differentiate what they need to have them selves and is what's good to make the teacher aware of? I think that's an amazing question. So I think we probably I'll have some responses, right. My initial thoughts about this is that's the power of a microaggression, right? Like you're hearing it and you're feeling because of like your own internal ized experience, your own lived experience.
Like, is this a big deal? Am I making this a big deal? What if I say something? And so we really have to create spaces where students feel that they can come to us as adults to talk about about what's happening. But we also I mean, we have teachers that are starting with 2k1 and is how do we respond?
Like what language do you use to call somebody out? When do you call somebody out when harm is being done? Absolutely. But when do you call somebody n when do you have that private conversation on the side that says, like when you said this, this is how it affected me. So and then we have to balance that with the fact that if that street learning right that you need to learn how to negotiate conflicts, not always with adult interaction and help.
So I think that it's a it's a really complex response, but I'm honouring and letting them know if something hurts you. You have a right to say it. Don't question how you feel. You know, think about how you going to respond. Give give them tools about how to call in and call out. Make sure that your teachers have those same tools.
Like how do we advocate, you know, oftentimes you hear something and you're like, how do I respond? And so that's not something that just happens. It's something that you are explicitly learning building ladies.
Rassamee Hayes: I mean, I would just add like, I mean, these are little things, but I'm a kindergarten teacher, so she took my pencil and they want to come tell me. And sometimes I mean, calling someone stupid, maybe something different, but sometimes it's them having agency and saying, What could you say to that person? Do they know they took your pencil?
Do they know that when you call them stupid, it actually hurt where they just trying to be like friendly, which obviously is not the right language and giving them the power to be like. Have you told them and engaging those kids in a conversation? Because I'll say, Oh, did you tell someone? So he pushed you. Oh, no. I was like, If you come to me, then that friend might be like, Why did you come to Ms..
Hayes? Because I was just going by you and having them start those conversations. Yeah.
Andrea Strachan: And children need especially young children, because we're talking about early learners. They don't come to school with all their social skills in place. So making sure that there is that space to intentionally model how we handle these situations is really important. A lot of the time we look at, I guess, the child that's on the receiving end of it, sort of like the victim.
But actually there's learning to be had for both sides. So for example, when a child calls someone else stupid, they probably don't mean to say that they probably what they really wanted to say was you cut through the line. And it actually made me feel really angry. And but I am in the moment. I'm going to call you stupid, because that's the strategy that I can pull out really, really quickly.
So I think in early years, really teaching children how to speak to their feelings and really name what's happened, to give people specific feedback on what they did that upset them, helps the communication and helps the both sides and to make those interactions better.
Evelyn Hurtado: You know, and then what you're talking about really speaks to restorative practice, like restorative conversations, right? Like you're facilitating this restorative conversation. And, and that's one of the pedagogical approaches that, that is in that document that that was shared with you. So learning more about that practice could be could prove to be very powerful. I think our time is wrapping up, huh?
Andrea Strachan: Yes.
Molly Fassbender: Thank you. That's exactly what I wanted to say. I'm so sorry, but I think we're already at 1216, so we might have to say goodbye to everyone. And thank you so much.
Evelyn Hurtado: And we will be in that. We can figure out how to get in there. We'll be in that networking room. Okay. Thank you so much for your time and energy and for for making time for us today.
Molly Fassbender: And thank you to our fantastic presenters. I mean, Andrea, Evelyn and Rassamee, the work you've shared is just so deep and important and we just I think I have all been screenshotting all these resources and we'll be going to look up all these books in the library and just have so much food for thought to implement, both at home and at schools.
I would encourage to connect with them over the next hour in the online networking room. Just go into the event app, click on the event, and if you scroll down in the event, you'll get right into the online networking room. It's super easy. So we hope to see you there because there's just so much more to discuss. And I would also encourage everyone to attend the 1 p.m. keynote address by Andreas Schleicher.
He is talking about holistic.
Education in the high.
Tech era, and that's at 1:00. Thank you so much. And that brings our session.
Today to a close.
Goodbye, thank you.